A major storm that is forecast to become a typhoon is churning its way across the Pacific on a path that could see it strike Taiwan as soon as Wednesday.
Typhoon Matmo was centred some 720km east-northeast of Manila at noon today and was heading towards Taiwan, the Hong Kong Observatory said.
The disaster-weary Philippines, still reeling from last week's assault by Rammasun, was bracing for more rain as Matmo strengthens and edges towards the country's northern provinces, increasing the risk of flash floods and landslides.
"Matmo has entered the Philippine area of responsibility. We should get ready now before the heavy rains fall," President Benigno Aquino's spokeswoman, Abigail Valte, warned yesterday in a government radio broadcast.
The Observatory predicted that Matmo would become a typhoon before reaching Taiwan. It had earlier predicted that is would become a 'super typhoon' - a storm with sustained winds of over 185km/h - as it crossed the South China Sea after passing the Philippines.
The China Meteorological Administration office yesterday described Typhoon Rammasun as the strongest storm to hit China's southern provinces since 1973. Winds reaching 218km/h tore down power lines, destroyed crops and damaged buildings, Xinhua reported.
The civil affairs ministry said the storm had claimed 18 lives - nine on Hainan Island and nine in Guangxi region - as it swept north to Vietnam.
China's meteorological centre warned that the diminishing Rammasun would bring downpours to northern parts of China in coming days.